Garda assault victim holds 'no ill will'
Published 23/12/2011 | 05:00
A POLISH man assaulted by a garda while his hands were handcuffed holds "no ill will" towards the Irish police force.
Garda Thomas McKenna (27) was found guilty yesterday of assaulting the man in Waterford garda station on June 19-20, 2010.
His victim, 33-year-old Bartlomej Skwirut, has returned to Poland for the Christmas holidays and did not appear in court yesterday.
McKenna, who was based in Waterford garda station at the time of the assault, escaped a jail term but received a three-month suspended sentence for assault causing harm.
A decision on McKenna's future as a garda will have to be taken by the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. He has been suspended from the force since June 2010.
The case was investigated by the Garda Ombudsman Commission after it was referred to it by the garda commissioner.
The conviction follows the imprisonment last month of two other gardai also based in Waterford city, Daniel Hickey and John Burke, for their role in an assault on Anthony Holness.
A third officer, Sgt Martha McEnery, received a suspended sentence in relation to the same incident. She remains suspended from the force.
Judge David Kennedy handed McKenna a three-month suspended sentence and a €750 fine for assault causing harm at Waterford District Court yesterday.
Earlier the court had heard how Mr Skwirut, who has an address in New Ross, Co Wexford, was punched in the face by McKenna and rugby tackled to the floor.
The court heard there were no "residual or long-term effects" from the assault and that Mr Skwirut held "no ill will towards the Irish gardai".
McKenna's solicitor, Frank Buttimer, indicated that his client would be appealing the case in the new year.
In sentencing, Judge Kennedy said he was struck by the fact that the injured party was in handcuffs and his hands were behind his back at the time of the attack.
McKenna, who is from Cork city, had previously told of his embarrassment over the case. His father and brother are both serving sergeants in the force.
He was accompanied in court by family members yesterday, and colleagues shook his hand after the judgment was read out.
He was "too upset" to speak after the case, but posed for photographs on the steps of the courthouse.
Earlier in the case, Gda Caroline Lynch said she saw McKenna punching Mr Skwirut in the face. McKenna's defence argued he was trying to stop Mr Skwirut from headbutting him and kicking his colleague.
Gda Lynch also gave evidence that she witnessed McKenna telling his victim and a second man who was in custody: "Welcome to Ireland -- you are not in Poland now."
The two men had been arrested for being "highly intoxicated" at the Woodlands Hotel in Waterford. They were taken to the station when they were uncooperative with gardai. Mr Skwirut was cautioned for his behaviour but not prosecuted for a public order offence.